Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

The theory was that I’d be able to do large, expansive updates while in Edinburgh, to describe the ups and downs of life at a film festival. The practice is, to be honest, that I don’t have the time and my feet have barely touched the ground in the last three days. With the whole ‘obtaining interviews’ process being an arcane one that I’m simply not up to dealing with (although I have managed to bag myself another interview with Guillermo Del Toro on the subject of the wonderful PAN’S LABYRINTH, which will be happening when I get back to London), I’ve simply concentrated on seeing as many movies as possible. Thursday was three films, Friday was five and today- once I see the two I’ve got lined up- will total another five. And I’ve possibly got six lined up for tomorrow, depending on how much I can actually cope with.

The films…

APRIL SNOW- Korean melodrama, with a car crash bringing together a man and a woman who find out their comatose spouses were having an affair. Much angst and beautiful people being miserable ensues. It’s beautifully played, but the misery qotient gets a bit too high, and the melodrama A MOMENT TO REMEMBER is much better.
THE LOST- a dirty, nasty and frighteningly gripping take on the ‘delinquent teen’ movie, with a young psycho getting involved with a rich girl out to walk on the wild side, with disastrous and savage consequences. Full on extreme cinema, with loads of sex and seriously grotesque violence- aside from the climactic bloodbath, which could have acheived the same effect if they’d just put up a title card saying “SCENE OF REALLY NASTY VIOLENCE”, this was very impressive.
THE AURA- South American drama, with a Taxidermist getting involved with a Casino heist following a hunting accident. It’s a little too long, but very well put together with some imaginative and expertly crafted sequences.
THE RIGHT OF THE WEAKEST- More heist drama, but from France and the director of the… er… “Trilogy” trilogy, Lucas Belvaux. Working class men try to claw back some self-respect by turning to armed robbery. Naturally, it all goes wrong, but it’s very well put together and excellently played.
HOLLY- Dealing with Child Prostitution in Asia, this was never going to be a barrell of laughs, and does contain some very powerful stuff as American Ron Livingstone (from SWINGERS and OFFICE SPACE) tries to save a young Vietnamese girl from the sex trade. However well it’s put together, it can’t help feeling a little too worthy and far too much of an “issue” movie.
THE TREATMENT- a lovely, intelligent film that’s a proper romantic comedy (not in the general, bland, Hollywood sense of the phrase), where a New York teacher tries to woo a rich widow (played by the ever-gorgeous Famke Jannsen) and also attempts to cope with his hilariously nutty Argentinian therapist (played to perfection by Ian Holm). A genuine delight, it’s both funny and thought provoking without overdoing it.
RED SHOES- a truly nutty Asian Horror from Korea, that takes the very basic set-up of the Powell and Pressburger film and uses it to spin a delriously OTT tale of posession and psychosis, where wearing the titular shoes means that you’ll either lose your feet or your mind. Utterly bonkers, visually stunning, and nightmarish fun.
SHUT UP AND SHOOT ME- a Czech black comedy that seriously misfires, this sees a depressed British bloke who’s lost his fiancee in a freak accident hiring his driver to kill him, with complicated but not necessarily funny consequences. Violent comedy is a tricky thing to get right, and while this has its moments, it feels very lifeless and ends up somewhat turgid and annoying in the end, using crude violence for cheap laughs.

Okay. That’s your lot for now. I’m off to see two more.

One week to go. One week to go…

3 thoughts on “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

    • The Treatment
      Okay…
      A brainy New York comedy drama that manages to be both romantic and comic, The Treatment might be a little too small-scale to net a theatrical release, but it’s still a satisfying, engaging watch. It’s the story of Jake Singer (played by Whit Stillman regular Chris Eigeman), a slightly pent-up teacher at an exclusive boy’s school who’s still trying to get over an ex-girlfriend, and is trying to work out his problems in therapy. Unfortunately for him, this means going up against sadistic Freudian psychotherapist (a gleefully funny Ian Holm) who seems determined to battle him at every turn, and soon starts popping up in Jake’s subconscious and commenting on the action at various points. The real issue for Jake begins when he meets rich widow Allegra (Famke Jannsen), and is soon struggling with his own problems as well as trying to manuevere around the fact that she’s still affected by her husband’s death. Quiet, frothy and engaging, it’s a well crafted film where the biggest advantages are the performances- particularly from Holm and Eigeman, who manages to make Jake both neurotic and likeable at the same time. There’s time for offbeat humour and occasionally kooky asides, but the central message of a man learning that he can’t stand apart from life is well put across, and even if there are occasional stumbles (like a subplot involving a black basketball player that doesn’t seem to go anywhere), it’s intelligent and satisfying entertainment in a manner that Indie cinema often does very well, and Hollywood seems to have forgotten.
      Hope that’s okay!

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      • Re: The Treatment
        Just read it back, and realised it’s not exactly much more detailed- but, I’m afraid it’ll have to do as my brain is frazzled. I’ve just watched two documentaries, I’m about to go and watch a nutty French horror flick, and then I’ve got two more tonight. Life is way too full of movies at the moment!

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